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phantom weights

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He was supposed to be dead right now.

That was the whole plan . He would die for the man who said he was his father, for all the people he'd hurt, for the future he'd never have. For his parents, who they buried without him months ago, who died because of him. He would die in place of Mulder and give his birth mother the chance to start over. (What the fuck would she do if it had really been Mulder and she was stuck with Jackson, great disaster that he is? What would happen to Sarah, to Bri, to anyone else he tries to connect with? What would happen to him?)

But he didn't die. He took a bullet straight to the forehead and sunk deep into the brackish, salty water, salt and copper at the back of his throat, but he didn't die.

He heard the man who shot him—the man he'd thought was his birth father—get shot himself, multiple times. He fell into the water feet away from where Jackson was drifting, his blood in the water, and Jackson was still waiting for death when he felt something like a release . Like something snapped loose in his head, a taut wire breaking, something set free. A weight gone, and something coming in to replace it. A rush of emotions from a man Jackson had never, ever felt before; the grief of the man standing up on the dock, like a crash overwhelming his brain. It hurt, almost worse than the bullet in his head.

As Jackson drifted, waiting for death, he understood suddenly. It all became clear. Mulder wasn't making it up when he said he was his father; he wasn't ignorant to everything that had happened. He was telling the truth.

It was too much to take, and Jackson didn't want to think, and he didn't die. He drifted far away from the docks, the harbor, before rising out of the water like the newly baptized.

---

Mulder and Scully told their story to the police again and again on that dock in Norfolk. Scully was quiet and numb, teary, her head bent forward as she answered questions in a murmur. Mulder would barely answer their questions, tense and nervous and furious. He asked about Skinner several times before he got an answer, his voice rising towards a yell before they finally told him that Skinner was alive and had been taken to the hospital for surgery. Scully sniffled behind her hand, her eyes squeezed shut, swaying slightly in place.

The police gave up and told them that they could go. There was no sign of Spender's body, of course, and no sign of Jackson's, either. If Mulder knew how this works, he suspected that they'd never find the bodies. (He flinched at thinking of his son as the body , as a lifeless corpse somewhere out there in the deep. It felt like a betrayal. It stung, the casualness of it. He couldn't believe he was gone.)

They got into their car, but Mulder didn't move to start it. He had a headache, his skull pounding, tears building at the back of his throat. He was as shellshocked as Scully, his stomach rolling with nausea, his muscles tense with protest. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. He leaned forward abruptly, burying his face in his hands as his eyes welled with tears. It wasn't fucking supposed to happen this way, goddamnit, it was supposed to go differently, and he wanted to shout with the unfairness of it. He wanted to scream until his throat was raw, he wanted to pull this dock apart board by board. He wanted his son back. He wanted his son back.

He'd been hallucinating a little since all of it; he'd had flashes of currents, of freezing cold and salty wetness and the taste of blood in his mouth. Of his son's face, still in the black-green water, a trickle of blood across his forehead. His eyes shutting, he saw it again: William's pale face in the depths of the murky saltwater.

He shuddered, biting back a scream of protest—he didn't want to upset Scully further, sitting quiet in the passenger seat with a hand pressed over her mouth and her eyes wet with tears. He pressed his face harder against his fingers, his palms intended to muffle the sound, and sobbed.

---

They drove to a hotel. Mulder was quiet the whole time, his eyes red, his face pale and streaked with tears. Scully thought, absently, that he was probably mad at her. Maybe he resented her for the things she said, or the things she didn't. Maybe for sending their son away all those years ago.

She didn't have the headspace to process any of this. She was shaking. She was shivering, wrapped up in her coat in the passenger seat, her chin trembling like she was going to weep again. She had a hand instinctively over her belly, but she was mostly not thinking of the baby; she was mostly thinking of him, of her first baby. Her William. And she was also thinking about nothing at all, her mind blank. She was so cold, her jaw quivering, her cheeks wet and salty. She felt scraped raw, stinging; she couldn't breathe.

They drove in silence. A sharp pain began at the center of her forehead and spread, jarring her as it rattled against her skull. When she shut her eyes, she saw water lapping at murky sand, cars and headlights on the highway. She gritted her teeth and shook her head until the pain subsided. A hot tear escaped from under her eyelid, trickling down her cheek.

It wasn't until they got to the hotel, until they entered the room and slid to opposite sides of the bed and Mulder flipped off the light and did not reach for her that she realized what was happening. She was in shock. That was the only explanation for it. She was in shock. She couldn't explain the things she said, the words spilling out of her mouth on that dock, but she knew she did not mean them. She knew almost as soon as she said them that she didn't mean them. She was in shock and she couldn't get warm; she was shaking, huddled under the thin hotel comforter. She felt so nauseous, the pillowcase cool and uncomforting under her cheek; the room was spinning. She wanted her baby. She wanted her son back.

She suspected that Mulder—Mulder, lying on the other side of the bed with so much space between them and a hand pressed to his temple like he had a headache, his eyes squeezed shut—was in shock, too. After everything, she didn't see how he couldn't be. He had killed his own father just a few moments after seeing his son get shot. His son. His baby, who he had only seen twice since the day he was born. His son , who he could not save, who neither of them could save.

Scully made a sharp, keening sound and buried her face into the pillow, clutching it hard. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. They were supposed to be safe, both of them. She'd been terrified all this time that she would lose Mulder all over again, that he wouldn't come back like last time and she would never get to tell him about the baby or do all the things that she was supposed to do with him, but somehow she never really thought she would lose William. Not again. She thought she'd be able to save them.

She kept seeing her baby with a bullet in his head, hearing Mulder's primal shout. She felt the loss of him in a way she hadn't felt in years, aside from the horrific few hours when she'd thought he might be dead before realizing that he wasn't: she was thinking of the weight of William as an infant in her arms, his soft skin and downy hair. A phantom weight she hadn't quite felt since she'd given him up for adoption, yet one she'd still carried with her for years. She couldn't believe the things she said on that dock. That he wasn't their son, that he was an experiment and she was never his mother. The words didn't feel like they were coming out of her mouth. The shock of the things Skinner told her, and William asking her to let him go, and Mulder telling her that he was dead, had manifested into that, but she didn't mean it. She didn't know what she was saying, a betrayal to everything she felt and everyone she loves. She didn't want to tell Mulder about the baby this way.

Her teeth chattered involuntarily as another wave of cold washed over her. She curled into a tight ball, her hand back over her belly before she realized what she was doing and pulled it away. Was it a betrayal, she wondered, to love this child after everything that has happened to her first two? She wanted her son back. She wanted to tell him she was sorry; she wanted it more than anything in the world. She pulled the edge of the comforter tighter around her and wiped tears away, just as another piercing headache hit her.

Scully gritted her teeth to keep from crying out. She was dizzy, her head spinning, but she didn't realize what was happening until she saw it: the darkened road, the headlights blurring like starlight. The coldness, the wetness, the roar of cars echoing in her ears, the sound of wet shoes squelching on the pavement. And a voice, hard and angry and sad: Just so you know. Okay?

She realized all at once what was happening, and the shock of it nearly made her shoot up in bed. “Jackson,” she whispered, gripping the covers desperately, realizing too late that she'd spoken out loud. Beside her, Mulder made a pained, wordless sound and turned over. She pressed a hand to her mouth and tried, I'm so sorry. But she had no idea if he heard.

She needed to tell Mulder. She closed her eyes and crawled closer to the warm mass of Mulder's body. He was tense and rigid, but when she burrowed under the tent of his arm, he didn't pull away. She pressed her nose to his side and whispered, “Mulder.”

He grunted in response, his eyes squeezed shut.

She pressed a hand to his chest, swallowed back her tears, said, “Mulder, I think William is alive.”

He opened his eyes, dark and wet, and looks down at her. “You can see him?” he whispered tremulously. She nodded.

His eyes slid back shut, and he shook his head hard. “Jesus Christ, I thought I was imagining it,” he murmured, gathering her up in his arms, bundling her against him. She rested her cheek against his chest, sniffling and dizzy.

“I-I thought I was going insane. I… I think I've been seeing him, too,” Mulder whispered to her in broken disbelief, and she blinked with surprise. “But I didn't know… I've never seen him before… how is this happening, Scully? I saw him fall, I…” His voice broke; he squeezed her tighter, choking out another sob against her scalp.

“I don't know. I don't know how,” she said, her voice shaking. She was crying again, tears sliding down her face. “I just… I can feel him. He's safe.” She didn't quite understand how Mulder could see William now, and she could barely believe it herself, but she didn't want to question it. He was alive, and if Mulder saw him, too, that made it real. He was alive , and that was all that mattered. Her baby was still alive.

“Thank God ,” Mulder breathed, stroking the back of her head. “I didn't believe it when I… I didn't want to believe it in case it wasn't true. I-I am so glad that you feel it, too.” He pressed his lips to Scully's forehead, shaking in her embrace, tears falling on her hair.

She felt a sudden, desperate need to apologize for everything she said to him on the docks. He was the one who met their son, who hugged him, who saw him twice with a bullet in his head (twice, twice now, goddamnit). He was the one who never got to be with him as a baby, who didn't get to hear that his son wanted to know him better. (He had to be William's father. He had to be. She did a test when William was a baby, and she thought that Mulder might've done one again when they were in Norfolk, but she knew she was going to do another one as soon as she got a chance. First fucking thing. But somehow, the fact that Mulder could suddenly, miraculously hear Jackson was comforting to her, was enough to convince her that he was William's father. It had to mean something, didn't it? She held onto that hope tightly.)

She didn't mean what she said, not one bit of it. She was in shock. She didn't mean it. She felt like she was going to throw up. She had already thrown up once tonight, retching over a trash can by the water while Mulder whispered her name helplessly and rubbed her back, and she didn't think it was because of the baby. She heard the gunshots Mulder fired into the smoker's chest, every single one; she'd felt them deep in her bones.

She wasn't going to tell Mulder what Skinner said—especially now that she was nearly sure that Mulder was Jackson's father—but she needed to apologize. She needed to tell him she didn't mean what she said. She needed to tell him right now.

“Mulder, I didn't mean what I said,” she blurted, and his arms went stiff around her. She sniffled, burying her face in his neck. “I didn't,” she murmured, balling a hand in his shirt. “I was scared. I was in shock. But I didn't mean it, Mulder. He's our son. He'll always, always be our son.” She had to believe that, she had to.

His fingers brushed over his spine. “Are you saying this because you know he's alive now?” he asked quietly, and she knew that everything she'd said had hit him hard.

Wincing, she shook her head, frantic and immensely sorry, digging her fingernails into his shoulders. “No,” she said quickly, nearly stammering. “No, Mulder, no, he's our son. For God's sake, he's our son. He's our son .” She was crying again, near hiccupping, clinging to him like he's a life raft. “He's my son,” she whispered hollowly. “He's my baby, and I just… he asked us to let him go. I didn't know what to do. I… I couldn't lose him again.”

“Shhh,” Mulder was saying, his voice trembling. He was still crying. He was stroking her hair again, her back, her neck. “Shhhh, Scully, it's okay. It's okay.”

“I'm his mother,” she said. She was remembering the cold feeling of fear, of surprise and uncertainty just a few days ago, when she took the pregnancy tests and saw the results, sitting on the grimy tiles of a bathroom floor inside the handicapped stall. Of guilt, even. She didn't know how to do this again and it scared the shit out of her. She thought that she might want to do this again, be somebody's mother, but she had no idea how. She was Jackson's mother, even if he would never think of her that way, and now she was a mother all over again.

Mulder clung to her and she clung to him and they cried. She held onto the image of William—of Jackson —walking in the rain, huddling for warmth under a bridge. I'm here, she thought desperately towards her son as she started to drift off. I'll always be here, if you need me. Always.

---

They had breakfast next morning, at the continental breakfast in the lobby. Scully didn't exactly feel like eating, but she made herself. She was thinking about the baby, about proper diets and protein and three good meals a day, when she got a spoonful of scrambled eggs, three strips of limp bacon, a cup of yogurt with berries. She ate gingerly, thinking of the pregnancy tests that she lined up along the toilet paper holder, the rush of emotions that she'd felt when she saw that they were all positives. Her baby. She was going to have a baby.

She could feel Mulder's eyes on her, watching her as gingerly as she was eating. “Honey…” he said softly. He reached out to touch her shoulder, his fingers hovering, before he lowered them to touch her stomach.

She reached down and covered his hand with hers. “I know,” she said. “It's a lot to take.”

“It's… it's wonderful news,” he began, before something like guilt passed over his face and he shook his head. “I mean, I'm not sure how it's… how—how do you feel about this, Scully?”

She looked down at her plate, at their hands together. She curled her fingers around his. “I… I don't know,” she whispered. “It's… it's not what I would've chosen for myself. Not now. Maybe years ago… but… I don't know, Mulder.” She squeezed his hand. She lifted her head to meet his eyes. “I… I think I might want this. I do. I can't not . Mulder, I can't lose another child. I can't.”

“I know,” he said softly, and she knew that he did. They had both lost so many people. They had lost their son again and again, seen him dead far too many times. Neither of them could endure another loss.

He rubbed a gentle thumb over her abdomen, where it was slightly rounding, and she felt like crying all over again. She sniffled, wiping a tear away. “I suppose…” she said in a tremulous voice, “that I should ask you how you feel about this. If… if this is something you want.” She'd considered every possible response when she was trying to figure out how to tell him, and she had tried to focus on the ones where he was happy, but she kept coming back to the ones where he wasn't.

His eyes widened, his thumb moving over her stomach again. “Scully, of course,” he whispered. “Of course it is.” He lifted her hand in a fluid motion to kiss the back of it, and she sniffled again, her eyes shutting.

“I… it's scary,” he admitted, his voice breaking. “The prospect of another child… I think we're both a little apprehensive. But I want this as long as you want this. I've always wanted this with you.”

Her eyes filled abruptly, and she jerked forward in her seat towards him. He had his arms around her immediately, her chin on his shoulder. She made a shaky sobbing sound, one hand over her mouth and the other pressed hard into his shoulder. He put a hand to the back of her head, whispered soothing things into her ear. She knew that people were staring, but she didn't care. She held him tightly, nearly in his lap.

“I-I think we should go to the doctor,” she whispered in his ear. “Right away. To make sure everything is okay.” They both knew all the things that could go wrong, all the possibilities that they wouldn't be able to see this through. She didn't want to say the possibilities out loud; all she wanted was to know that everything was okay.

“Yeah. Yeah, we'll go right away.” He kissed the side of her head. “Everything's going to be okay, honey,” he whispered. “I promise.”

You don't know that, she wanted to say, but she didn't. She just held onto him harder and nodded. It was all too much, too much to process; all she wanted was for them to be okay, for everyone to be okay.

When they'd finally pulled away, when Scully was wiping her eyes with a napkin and taking another tentative bite of yogurt, Mulder spoke again. Spoke in a hesitant voice, as if he was unsure of what her reaction would be. “Scully,” he said, carefully, “do you… do you think we'll ever see him again?”

Her jaw clenched automatically. She looked back down at her plate. All she really wanted right now, she thought, was to go home. To get into their bed together, slip back into that sweatshirt of his and crawl under the covers and sleep for a week. She wanted her son safe and at home, and she wanted her baby to be okay. She wanted her family to be safe and together.

“I don't know, Mulder,” she whispered. “But I hope so. I really do.”

---

Jackson never really wanted to kill anyone.

He kept trying to tell himself that in the wake of his fucked up rap sheet: that he never really wanted to kill anyone. He put on a tough persona—he had to at that stupid school they sent him to—but half of the stuff he'd done was just a stupid prank that went too far. The car accident, the tantrums that exploded (sometimes literally) into chaos, the stupid fucking prank on Bri and Sarah that gutted him to the core. Fucked up pranks, horrible pranks, but just pranks, pranks he would always regret right after he did them.

But he had killed people now. His parents, if only indirectly, and those fucking lackeys who came after him. He killed them; that was him. It was under his control.

He could tell himself all he wanted that his parents’ deaths were not his fault, but he knew they were. They came looking for him, the bastards who shot his mom and dad; if his parents had adopted another baby, they'd be alive and well and probably happy right now. (With a normal kid who didn't play shitty, horrible pranks and destroy half their house, who didn't pout and act sullen, and who told them how much he loved them.) He knew that people blamed him for his parents’ deaths, that people thought he was a murderer. (He had gone to his grandmother's house in Wyoming after a week on the run, and she had slammed the door on his face. She acted like she didn't know him. She accused him of murdering her son, and he'd cried like a baby on her porch before running away in a panic.)

He used to tell himself that he wasn't a murderer, no matter what people thought of him. He might've been something of a monster, but at least he wasn't a murderer. And then he killed those people before they could kill him.

Now he tried to tell himself it was all in self defense. But it didn't work. He still woke up screaming most nights, images of blood and gore and his parents in body bags on either side of him imprinted on his eyelids.

He didn't know where to go. He thought about calling Sarah, that first night sleeping under a bridge, but he couldn't bring himself to pull her into this. Not again. He was going to put her in more danger if he did that. Aside from that, she was probably pissed as hell he didn't meet her, if she didn't think he was dead all over again.

How many people thought he was dead at this point? He knew his birth mother didn't. Scully, Ginger, whatever her name was. He'd showed her he wasn't dead. He thought that he might've showed that guy Mulder, too, if inadvertently. (He didn't entirely understand what the hell was happening with his birth father, but he thought it went something like this: the creepy smoker fucker had put some kind of telepathic block in his mind to keep him from connecting to the Mulder guy. To make Jackson think that he was his birth father. And when he died, it stopped working. He didn't even want to dig too far into that fucking mess, but he was pretty fucking glad that the smoker wasn't his birth father, as far as he knew now.)

He didn't know where to go, so he headed west again. Stole a car from a Walmart parking lot and just fucking drove. Maybe he should head north, go to Canada, he thought at one point. Maybe get out of the country completely. Maybe settle down and get a damn job before he ran out of money. But truthfully, he had no idea where the fuck he should go.

There was a small, traitorous part of him that offered, You could go stay with them. Mulder and Scully, his weird-ass birth parents who called each other by their last names. Who apparently loved him a lot. Who fucking gave him up and never came looking for him, who had no rights as his parents. They gave that right up, and they were not his parents.

No, he told himself furiously. Absolutely not. Only as a last resort. Never. He could not do that to his parents.

So he drove, moving into the Midwest. The furthest he got last time was Wyoming, back to his childhood home, before he turned around and slunk back to Virginia with his tail between his legs. This time, he told himself, he was going to go further. All the way to the fucking Pacific.

---

A few days after Mulder and Scully got home, they went to the hospital to meet with one of Scully's old friends from the hospital to confirm the pregnancy. Just to make sure. Mulder held her hand while the blood was drawn, staying right at her side, whispered in her ear that it would be okay no matter what. Grateful for his presence, she tried her best to believe that.

While they were waiting for the results, Scully slipped downstairs, found another friend and asked her to run William's DNA against Mulder's. She had to know, she had to know for sure. The fact that Mulder could hear Jackson now coupled with the DNA test he ran against both of them back in Norfolk gave her some comfort, but she was still uncertain enough that she needed to check. She had to know for sure. Just to reassure herself.

She hadn't told Mulder about it, and she wouldn't if she didn't need to. The entire idea made her nauseous, made her want to find the smoker’s corpse and put ten more bullets in his skull. It couldn't be true. It couldn't be true. It wasn't true, not until it was proven. She had refused to believe in so much, and she would refuse to believe in this until it was anything more than a rumor. And she wouldn't burden Mulder with it if she didn't have to.

She made the request, spent the next few minutes in a bathroom, forehead pressed into the metal of the stall, breathing uneasily. She went downstairs to find out if she was going to be a mother again.

The pregnancy was confirmed. She was over three months along, the doctor estimated with a cheery smile. Behind her, Scully heard Mulder's sharp intake of breath, felt his hand clamp hard around hers. Her heart was beating too fast.

She insisted immediately on doing an ultrasound to make sure that everything was okay, and it seemed that everything was. The doctor reassured her as she moved the wand over her abdomen, telling her that everything looked good, everyone looked healthy  She could see the image of the baby on the screen ( her baby), could hear the pulsing whump-whump of the heartbeat, and she couldn't help the rush of tears. She couldn't believe this was really happening. Looking at the screen, she felt a powerful rush of love pulsing through her. This was all happening so fast she could barely process it, but she knew she loved this baby already, without being able to help it. She loved it more than words.

Mulder wiped away her tears, wrapping his hand around hers; he was crying, too, she could hear him. He asked where the baby was, pointing to the screen, and she showed him. She showed him their baby, and she felt his lips press gently to her hair.

---

When everything was done with, she slipped back downstairs to get the results of the DNA test.

It was what she wanted to hear, to her great relief; William was hers and Mulder's. He had always been hers and Mulder's. It was the best news she could've gotten, and she nearly sobbed with the relief of it all. Crumpled the results in her hand, trembling from head to toe. It wasn’t true. It was a lie, a horrible lie, but Jackson was their son. She cursed the smoker in his watery grave, but she felt a little lighter now, the weight of Skinner's confession off of her shoulders.  It wasn’t true. William was theirs, and Mulder would never know there was another possibility.

She found Mulder down in the lobby, lingering by the gift shop with a plastic bag clutched in one hand, looking at something on his phone. He looked up at her with soft, relieved eyes when she approached, said, “Hey,” in a gentle voice, and held up the bag. “I, uh… I bought you something. From the gift shop.” Surprised, she took the bag as he explained. “I was poking around in there, and—yeah, that, check it out.” She pulled a small cardboard box out, and he nodded eagerly. “That's the brand you drank before, right?” he asked. “When you were—with William? The caffeine-free tea?”

Scully nodded, stunned, turning the box over and over in her hands. “You remembered?” she whispered in astonishment, although she should not be astonished. Mulder remembered things like that, held onto the memories like they were something precious. She could remember the first time she'd drank it in front of him—wearing his sweatshirt on her couch, him sitting beside where she was sprawled, his hand on her knee as she'd drank from a Georgia On My Mind mug—but she had no idea he did.

“Yeah.” He smiled again, reaching out to touch her elbow. “I couldn't believe they had it. I grabbed three boxes of that, and, uh, something else I thought was kinda cute…” She rummaged to the bottom of the bag and found a small stuffed cat, tiny enough to be tucked into the corner of a crib. “For the, uh, baby. I dunno if you like it,” he continued, “but, uh…”

She cut him off, moving forward to hug him hard. She seized his face in her hands and kissed him thankfully. She was nearly shaking with the weight of it all, of this baby and of their son, out there somewhere, and of every single thing that he missed out on last time. “I do like it,” she whispered, smiling, her face hidden against his neck. “Thank you. Thank you so, so much.”

---

Jackson used to want to travel all the time. He hated Virginia, he'd whined, and he wanted to go somewhere else, somewhere exciting. And then they'd sent him to that school, and it had been anything but exciting, and he'd felt even more trapped than before. He wanted to go places, he wanted to be free and not have to answer to anyone and do anything he wanted to whenever he wanted it.

Now he had that. He was alone, he had no one telling him what to do or where to go, and his future could be whatever he wanted it to be, barring the fact that people were actively trying to kill him and that a lot of people thought he was a murderer. And he hated it. He wanted his parents back more than anything in the world. He kept expecting them to be there, telling him what to do: No, Jackson, don't do that. Don't be stupid, son. Be careful, be smart, be safe. He wanted to ask their advice on things, wanted them to be with him. The one time in his life he wished he was Haley Joel Osment. (In Sixth Sense, not in that stupid Pay It Forward movie.) He'd give anything to be haunted by his parents at this point. He'd give anything to have them back.

He made it all the way to California without any major hitches. It was uneventful; miles of driving on empty roads, stopping to see sights, eating fast food in the driver's seat of his car and sleeping curled up in the backseat in parking lots until some cop told him to keep moving. In Arizona, he considered going covert, dying his hair and getting a bunch of piercings, doing something besides just projecting so he looked like someone else, but the most he did was give himself a haircut because his hair was getting too long. A horrible, horrible haircut that he could practically see his mom cringing at. It looked like he was attacked by a lawnmower. He bought a baseball cap at the next visitor center and pulled it low over his head.

He made it to California. He went to San Diego for no particular reason, and found himself in a cemetery for no particular reason, and that was about when he realized that there was probably a reason he was here. He mulled around the gravestones for a long moment before arriving at a small, shiny one that read Emily Sim. Died when she was three years old, a week after her parents did.

Jackson winced, leaning forward to put his palm on top of the stone. As he did, a rush of images swept over him, images that made him sick with nausea, dizziness. Emily Sim, a little girl sucking her thumb before a bathroom floor streaked with watery blood; Emily on the floor of a children's home, a much younger Mulder and Scully knelt beside her; Emily Sim in a hospital bed, eyes screwed shut, face coated in sweat. Dying.

Jackson staggered back from the headstone, his heart in his throat, coated in sweat despite the relatively cool temperature. He was breathing hard. He knew immediately what this was. He'd had a sister. He'd had a sister who somehow wasn't Scully's, either, and she'd been an experiment like him, and she had died. No wonder Ginger seemed so protective of him, so panicky at the thought of his death; it wasn't just because she was his birth mother, it was because she'd gone through it before. He'd had a sister, an experiment who suffered her whole life and lost both her parents and died before he was even born. He swayed on his feet, fell to his knees in the graveyard. He was crying, and he didn't know why, but it made him furious, that he'd had a sister who was dead now because of these bastards who had murdered his parents. He'd always wanted a sister as a kid. A little sister he could protect, or a big sister who would stick up for him.

Her name was Emily. Emily Christine Sim. He resolved to remember that as he climbed to his feet, brushed dirt off of his jeans. Half his family gone, her entire family gone. A sister he would never know. Emily Sim. He pressed his palm to the stone and thought, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry that this happened to you. I'm so sorry I'll never get to know you.

After that, he didn't want to stay in California. He was getting flashes of other things, of a dark-haired girl that looked like that Mulder guy in pain, running, dying. Bad things had happened here. He looked out over the Pacific, at the great westward spread of the ocean, and then he got into his car and drove back east.